Welcome back to the last week of Playful Color Month! This week I’ll be showing you how to get out of “the fabric box” by using paint to explore color.
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How do I love thee color? Let me count the ways…
I love color right? (I know, shocker!) One thing I love about color is how color interacts with each other. The way colors dance and leap against each other is so mesmerizing and pleasing. Looking at color is both relaxing and energizing. Why is that?
My first foray into color exploration was in my Modern Rainbow book. In Rainbow Remix, shown above, I use blocks in a two color combination to move the rainbow from one color to the next. Then I arranged the blocks in an abstract rainbow. When I finished the quilt, the painterly effect struck me.
Rainbow Remix, and a few other quilts from Modern Rainbow, made me want to explore color more and specifically how to achieve that painterly quality. (Artist’s Statement) I’d love to be able to show off color movement and interaction in my quilts. (End Artist’s Statement) To that end, these days before I set out to make a quilt playing with color, I use some supplies to research and explore color interaction and movement.
Art Supplies and School Supplies
Personally, I’ve found the best way to explore color movement and color interaction to work with paint. I love paint because the pigments automatically mix together creating their own movement and interaction that I can then study and replicate in fabric. So, I’ll do a little painting, or a lot of painting, it doesn’t have to be perfect, to see how colors mix together. Then once I’ve seen how color interacts, I can capture that movement with my color chips. And then move on to planning and making the quilt.
When it comes to supplies that aren’t fabric, I keep it really simple. My two main “go to” supplies for exploring color are my paints and my Kona Cotton color chips.
In general, my routine is to:
- do a bit of painting until I see something I like;
- capture the color I see with my color chips; and
- plan and make the quilt.
Why you shouldn’t use fabric to explore color
If we seek to learn about color theory and create original, creative, colorful works, we should NOT use our fabric stash, at least not from the get go.
There are three main reasons why we shouldn’t start with fabric:
- The pigment in fabric is fixed and we can’t access it.
- Our fabric stash can be a stumbling block to creativity.
- We can immediately set ourselves apart from every other quilter who starts with fabric.
The color in fabric is fixed
The pigment in fabric is fixed meaning we can’t access it. (Color can’t come out to play! We need it to play!) In fabric, we can’t explore color interaction or change the pigment to learn about color the way we can with paints. By using supplies, like paint, we can directly interact with the pigment to observe how the color interacts and moves with other colors or with white or black.
A fabric stash can be a stumbling block to creativity
Do you have fabric that is almost too precious to use? I do!
We put lots of pressure on ourselves to use our stash in the best, most perfectest way. And then we wait and wait and wait for that unicorn opportunity to come along. Over time, the pressure for that perfect project becomes too great and we end up never using that precious fabric. The pressure kills our creativity!
If you feel this pressure, please use art supplies, or something else not precious to you to explore color (or whatever you are dabbling with!). Get outside the confines of fabric to play with color in a non threatening way. One comment I hear frequently from my students in my online classes is how much they enjoy using paper instead of fabric to play with color or design.
With paper there’s no pressure! If we don’t like what we create, then we haven’t wasted precious, precious fabric. (We sure can hang on to that fabric like it’s the last scrap on earth, can’t we?!)
By not starting our color play with our stash, we are pressure free to explore. And that is a good thing for our creativity!
Set yourself apart
Every other quilter out there starts with fabric to color their quilts (probably an over generalization!). Set yourself apart from the crowd by not starting with fabric. You don’t have to start with my method or even by using paints, but you’ll immediately set yourself apart by not starting with fabric.
How we’ll use paint in Playful Color Theory for Quilters
To sum up, I love to use paint to explore color before I make a quilt. So, I use playing with paint to explore color theory and to build playful color strategies in my workshop, Playful Color Theory for Quilters. In the workshop we use paint to:
- Learn about Hue – We’ll paint color wheels.
- Learn about Value and Chroma – We’ll explore what happens to hues when mixed with white, black, and gray.
- Learn about Secret Colors – We’ll explore how to use paints to generate palettes that automatically coordinate
- Create Color Shapes – We’ll explore how color moves and interacts in abstract and how to translate that to a quilt design.
- Create Color Transparency – We’ll use paint to explore transparency.
My current color explorations
I’m not just teaching you about Playful Color; I am currently exploring and learning new ways I (and we!) can apply playful color to quilt designs. Let me give you a preview of what I’ll be working on in the next few months. Recently, I’ve been exploring how to translate watercolor abstracts to quilts. (Above you can see one of the watercolor abstracts I made for the section exploring Color Shape). In watercolors, the colors move seemingly by themselves. I love watching how watercolors mix! Once I play with watercolors and see how the colors mix, I can take those mixtures and capture them with my color chips and then on a quilt. I can’t wait to show you more!
How will you explore color?
So how about you? How do you want to explore color? And how can you use art supplies (or something other than fabric) to help you in your explorations?
If you’d like to explore color with paint, here are some art supplies you might like:
I’m using acrylic paint that is on the expensive side because I have no self control when it comes to art supplies. I’m also including a more affordable option. I like cheap brushes because my kids like to sneak off with those, so no pressure keeping nice brushes, nice. And I love palette paper!
I love my watercolors! I use the have the basic Prang watercolors to share with my kids. It’s really a nice set of watercolors for the price. The water brush pens and the watercolor cakes really feel elegant to use and they are packed with color! As for paper, I don’t usually use watercolor paper because it is rather pricey. Instead I stick with Canson Mix Media paper.
Explore Playful Color with me in my Online Workshop
If you’d like to learn more Playful Color tools and strategies, then I invite you to join the fall session of my online workshop, Playful Color Theory for Quilters.
Color can be an incredible challenge. In my own work I’ve discovered more than a few tricks and tips, systems and routines, that have made working with color easier and more manageable. My goal in the workshop is to fully equip you with all of my Playful Color Tools and Strategies, so you can play with color in your own creative works.
The Playful Color Month Goal
My goal for you this September is to start you on the path away from “Color is hard and I can’t do it” to “Color is hard, but I have some tools to work with Color.” (I love that gif!)
I’ve struggled in the mires of color for years. As I fought my color battles I learned lots of color tricks. And I am here to equip you with color tricks and tips, strategies and routines, so that you can maximize your creative fun time and become confident in your color choices.
Playful Color Toolbox
As Playful Color Month winds down, I hope you can see the potential benefit of these Playful Color Tools and I hope you take away some new ways to explore and play with color.
Today I’ve given you a preview into some of my Playful Color Strategies I use with paint. In the past few weeks, I’ve also shown you three Playful Color Tools.
1. Playful Color Tool: The best way to use big, busy, bold fabrics is to reign in the chaos by organizing your quilt either by pattern or color.
2. Playful Color Tool: a Framework for Mixing Fabrics
3. Playful Color Tool: Personal Color Wheelhouse
If you are loving these Playful Color Tools and you want more, please register for my online workshop launching at the end of the month, Playful Color Theory for Quilters. Registration is now open (newsletter friends, check your latest newsletters for an exclusive coupon!) for the Fall session. Registration will close September 30th.
This workshop is a great resource to learn more about color theory and to add more tools and strategies to your Playful Color Toolbox.
Schedule of Events
Subscribe to the Playful Color Month Emails
As a reminder here’s the schedule of events and please remember this plan is a bit fluid because of my life transitions. (I just can’t wait to be perfectly settled to share this awesome stuff with you!)
Tuesday September 4 – My Top 9 Symptoms of Color Trouble – Do you have a problem?
Thursday September 6 – The 2 Root Causes of Color Mistakes
Tuesday September 11 – How to use Busy, Loud, but GORGEOUS Prints
Thursday September 13 – How to Mix Fabric Lines for a Custom Look
Tuesday September 18 – The Color Secret Artists use to Maximize Creativity
Thursday September 20 – Using the Personal Color Wheel to plan Rainbow Jacks (a new free pattern!)
Tuesday September 25 – Why you shouldn’t use fabric to explore color – My favorite color supplies (You are here!)
Thursday September 27 – I’m sharing and demoing live (I think!) one of the painting exercises from the Playful Color Theory for Quilters online workshop.
Next steps after Playful Color Month
Registration for the Fall Session of Playful Color Theory for Quilters is now open and will close September 30th.